Thursday, January 30, 2014


National parks' names are abbreviated for, well, abbreviation's sake: the first two letters of the first word in the name and the first two in the second word so, for example, Petrified Forest = PEFO. Andersonville, having only one word as its name, uses the first four letters: ANDE. Yellowstone is YELL. Glacier National Park uses the rather rude sounding GLAC. Rocky Mountain, on the other hand, is fun to say: ROMO. Well, I am now cooling my heels and my wheels in Carlsbad, NM while major surgery is being done on my rig (oh, yay, the joys of home ownership!) and took a trip to the Caverns yesterday since it was on the agenda anyway. You can maybe see where this is going. Carlsbad is a national park and it has two words in its name, so its unfortunate abbreviation is CACA. There, I got it out of my system and can get on to the show.

A man named Jim White discovered the caverns in 1898, at the age of 16. According to Wikipedia, when he was out hunting stray cattle he saw "a plume of bats" in what "appeared to be a volcano or a whirlwind but did not behave quite like either." (The Wikipedia article is quite interesting, and a quick read.) Caves continue to be discovered even now. 

I toured the Kings Palace and The Big Room, which took several hours. The paths go on and on. Access is via a 750-foot elevator descent and fortunately they don't make you walk out either. The Kings Palace portion was guided by a Ranger and the The Big Room was a free-for-all. A couple of times I was so alone that all I heard was a hum from the lights and dripping water. 

Many National Parks' signs are wooden, but maybe to make up for this park's unfortunate abbreviation, this one is from a colorful slab of stone.

I was the goody-two-shoes who volunteered to bring up the rear of the tour, but only so I could be the one lagging behind to photograph everything.

When Jim White began to explore the caverns he carried a ball of twine to help him find his way out. As he went deeper the ball got bigger and unwieldy. Next he broke off parts of the formations and placed them on the ground, pointing his way out. When he realized the tourist implications of broken formations, he started leaving smudges from his kerosene lantern on the walls.

I have 39 photos that I've kept and processed but will subject you to only a few. The caverns are nearly indescribable in their complexity, variety, and mystery and it was so easy to take way too many photos.

The lights cast weird colors on the stones. I've tried to neutralize them as much as possible but sometimes the color persists. Algae has been a problem in the Caverns, and that may be what the green is below, but the incandescent lights are being replaced by LEDs, with an added benefit of the gradual disappearance of the algae. It has something to do with the gases emitted by incandescents.

We had a Wookie at Big Bend in the form of a yucca, and here we have Jabba the Hut. Come on, didn't you think the same thing?

Cathedral-like rooms open on all sides. There are miles and miles of caves that have not yet been explored.

In some areas there was a riot of formations, as though the ceilings were dripping with gold.

There was a trend for a while, and it may still be going on, for celebration cakes (birthdays, etc.) to be towers of unstable-looking, angled layers. This formation immediately made me think of them.

Another view from my vantage point of bringing up the rear.

Miss Havisham's wedding gown. I'm so literary. Either that, or I have an over-active imagination.

There were many overhead formations of skull-crushing or skull-piercing attributes, but we were assured that nothing has crashed in a hundred years.

I think the draperies are the most beautiful of all.

This one was almost directly overhead and flared outward like a blossoming flower.

Some are so thin they're translucent.

Then there was this odd, flattened pattern. This was on the self-guided part of my tour so there was no one to ask how they were formed.

 Finally, a little bit of everything.

I'm waiting for the bill for my repairs, which should be done tomorrow. I'm still trying to count my blessings wherever I can find them. The part that's being repaired could have failed in the middle of nowhere or on I-10 through Houston, not only being darned inconvenient but could have caused a bad accident. The people here at this family-owned and -run repair shop have let me stay in my home on their property, plugged in and with access to water. I feel they're being fair and honest in their dealings with me. It could always be worse.


Thought of the day:

I lay in the bed in the hospital and said, "let's see what I have left." I could see, I could speak, I could think, I could read. I simply tabulated my blessings and that gave me a start. (Dale Evans)
I lay in the bed at the hospital and said, 'let's see what I have left.' And I could see, I could speak, I could think, I could read. I simply tabulated my blessings, and that gave me a start.